the magic of a camp wedding

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well, friends, i did it. i had my first real ( = paid!) photography gig today. and it was totally amazing.

i spent my day shooting the wedding of a former co-worker, who hired me just after i posted my photos from ulrika and micke’s wedding in sweden this summer. today’s wedding was also outside, but it was at a camp – camp pinnacle in hendersonville, north carolina. about 45 minutes from asheville.

the setting was gorgeous. the festivities were festive. and the whole thing was relaxing, fun, and real. the bride and groom had rented out the camp for the entire weekend, so all of their friends and family could stay at the camp – in cabins or in tents – if they wanted. what a fabulous idea.

so, as i walked around, ran around, hunted photos, and took the traditional, expected wedding photos, all i could think about was how lucky i was. how lucky i am. and i was honored, totally honored, to be a part of this day – to witness two people share their love and commit their lives to each other with their friends & family.

i thought back to the days when i worked as a minister, and how i had the incredible privilege of being a part of very intimate, special moments in peoples’ lives: births, weddings, deaths, major life changes and decisions. it was humbling work.

today, i felt that exact same feeling. as i walked around, shooting the couple as they wiped the tears falling from their eyes and reciting their vows, i knew that i was witnessing a very special moment. and that is something i don’t take for granted. and to have the amazing honor to get to capture those moments with my camera, a front row seat (though i wasn’t sitting at all, of course) to the biggest day of their life, and a sneak peek into their families and the love that they share… i was truly humbled. down to my soul. magical.

the other thing that i felt today, as i wandered around the camp, taking candid shots and nature shots, preserving memories of their venue, was that i realized that i was born to do this. i should have been dong this forever. it felt soooooo right. i was somewhere back in the woods, among the trees, alone alone for a few minutes while i took some shots of the bonfire area (where the ceremony would be). in those moments in the woods – just me and my camera, i felt such deep peace, that i knew i was exactly where i was supposed to be. and this was exactly what i was supposed to be doing in that moment.

so, on the eve of the week of my 40th birthday, i cannot imagine any greater gift than feeling such deep peace as i felt today, a true sense of knowing who i am, and the opportunity to chase and follow and make my dreams come true. to spend this day photographing happiness and love… it was perfection.

and now, my friends, i am tired. exhausted. but, in an beautiful, wonderful way. so, i’ll bid you goodnight. and i’ll keep you posted on when the photos from lain a and jason’s wedding today will be up on my photography website. for now, here are a few sneak peeks from my iPhone today:

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eeeeee!! i am so happy and excited! peace + love, my dears.

lina’s life anniversary ♥

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i remember exactly what happened one year ago. in fact i wrote down every single moment in my journal. it was the day that my love decided to take her life back by admitting herself to the hospital for intense treatment of anorexia.

i could not have been prouder. and yet, i was terrified. nervous. sad. and so very scared.

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just 2 years ago, lina was sent to the hospital – committed – because she was dying from this eating disorder that was slowly taking every bit of life from her. but, she somehow managed to fight through those (almost) 3 months in the hospital and came back to life some – though much of it remained a struggle.

last year, exactly one month from today, she and her counselors (and i) decided that it was time for her to go back to the hospital for more intense treatment. she had to get this under control and fight to make her dreams come true – which was to move to asheville and study graphic design. so, we packed her bags and headed over to check her in – knowing what lay ahead for us both. a long, hard fight for lina. and time all alone again for me. even though she did not want to do this, something inside of her was stronger than the disease. and she did it.

we knew that it had to be done. but, neither one of us wanted to be separated. it was so tough to admit her to the hospital, and then leave her there – though i saw her frequently and she was even able to sleep at home some near the end of her treatment. and i can’t even imagine what it was like for her – being stuck there to face her fears and figure out how to live. while she was there, i spent lots of time, sitting with her, watching her do puzzles, and just hanging out with her. but, she did all the work. i suppose i’ll never know the fight that she had to fight – and all that she had to face.

luckily, and amazingly, lina had lots of incredible professional people surrounding her and helping her through it all – challenging her and comforting her. and our dear friend, nicole, flew from ireland to be with me the first few days that lina was gone, so i wasn’t alone. i also relied heavily on this blog as a means to process and help me focus – both last year and two years ago.

it ended up being about two months of treatment in total (from april 12 – sometime in june), just before we moved to asheville, that lina stayed in the hospital. but, she was determined. she fought her demons. she had amazing help. and, with all of that help and pushing, she took her life back.

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so, today i celebrate life – most specifically my love’s life. i cannot imagine living without her – and it came close to that at one point. but, my lina, my amazing lina, kick anorexia’s ass (though she still is recovering and fighting today – it is a lifelong process) and chose to live life. and i’m thinking… if my love can fight her way back to living her dream, and finding happiness and peace within herself, then anyone can do anything.

she is my inspiration. the love of my life. my best friend. and the whole world to me. i am so blessed to be able to share every single moment of living life with her. i’m not sure that i can actually express in words how she makes my life beautiful and meaningful. and i cannot begin to tell you how we have now dedicated our lives to celebrating every single little moment we encounter – i suppose as a way to celebrate how much we now understand about living life to the fullest.

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for us, for me, life has become about those little moments that we find ourselves giggling. about enjoying the simplicity of just sitting together. of soaking up the sun, listening to the radio, riding with the windows down, sipping on a cold beer outside, sharing that first cup of coffee in the morning, dancing around our apartment… just regular, little, amazing moments with lina. that’s all i need to be truly happy.

what an incredible fight. what an amazing person. i am overwhelmed with love and admiration.

congratulations, baby! you have no idea how proud i am of you! xx

you can read lina’s thoughts and reflections on today on her blog…. click here.

40 days in a cathedral: week four.

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i was gonna do a whole post on failure and my worries about a potential job getting in the way of my flexible lifestyle. basically, blah blah blah. poor me, poor me, poor me. poor almost 40 year old who has had a chance to chase her dreams and has honestly squandered some of her time – successfully making some dreams come true, but not working her ass off to make even larger dreams come true. all in all, a post about being sad that it’s time to get a “real” job to supplement the dream job. and then, i was going to berate myself for only spending one day at the cathedral last week.

but, then, our friend’s husband died.

in sweden, i worked with an amazing woman, the other minister at the church where i served, who soon became a confidante and a friend. last spring, she had to take a long time off of work because her husband had a bone marrow transplant. he had been in & out of the hospital the previous sixish months, with a disease that doctors couldn’t quite figure out. but, the bone marrow transplant was a hopeful answer and the promise of a new beginning. of course, he had to be isolated afterwards for many months as his immune system rebuilt itself. so, my colleague was home and at the hospital a lot. and in sweden, you are given lots of time of to care for a loved one. needless to say it was very tough for them for the past year and a half.

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last year in sweden, at the same time my colleague’s husband was fighting for his life, my love was in the hospital fighting for her life – for the second spring in a row. i worked throughout her hospital stay, unlike my colleague, but i was able to juggle my schedule and be with her. however, her sickness was a bit different, and staying away while she worked on getting better was the best thing i could do. so, my colleague and i had a lot of worry and fear in common, as our loved ones fought for their lives, while we did all that we could to help them in any way possible. mostly, all we both could do was let the professionals do what they are supposed to do.

last year, my love came home from the hospital and kept recovering. since then, she has only gotten better and better, though some days i know it is still tough. however, she has battled the worst of the monster that is anorexia -and is thriving and living her dream now.

my friend’s husband battled and battled, but has been in and out of the hospital continuously, even after the transplant. unfortunately and devastatingly, he passed away this weekend.

two people. two diseases. two lives. two different outcomes.

my heart is heavy today, and i am reminded, once again, of the shortness and fragility of life. my love could have died. in fact, she almost did die. there were days and nights that i wondered if i was going to lose her. i feared facing life without her – the light of my life, my inspiration, and my everything. but, she survived. and today, we are happier that we have ever been. there are not enough words to express my gratitude.

our dear friend, my colleague, does not have the same ending as i do. and we mourn with her, from afar. i wish i could see her and hug her and offer her words of comfort, or even just my presence. but, an ocean separates us.

what i can do, though, in her honor and in memory of her husband, is to share this message that we all know, once again:

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life is short. fleeting. and we only have one. so, why the hell would we spend any moments of this life complaining, feeling like a failure, being lazy, and/or giving up? why would we not spend every second doing the things that we love the most and being with the people that we love the most? why would we not chase every dream that ever crossed our minds? why would we not spend every single bit of our energy making the most of every single second of life – regardless of what others thought about us?

because, let’s face it friends, life could end at any time. and i want it to be said that i lived life to the fullest, that i made other people happy, that i inspired others, and that i wasn’t afraid of doing something new. i want to live from my soul, be adventurous, try new things, connect with people, and spread my own kind of light in this world. i want to feel, and laugh, and cry, and be excited.

i want to travel. and blog. and talk. and relax. and work. and make a difference. and enjoy my family. i want to eat good food, see beautiful art, experiences different cultures. i want to suck every little bit of life out of life – and live my life with a kind of contagious passion.

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now, back to my cathedral commitment. it didn’t happen this week. i went and spent some time in silence on wednesday. and it was very peaceful. and i thought about each of you who have been a part of my daily prayers and meditations – there are even a few of you who have just popped into my head and i’ve added you to my list. so, while i have not been in the cathedral, my commitment to thinking about you has continued.

but, dear readers, i ask something of you this week… will you keep our friend and colleague and her family in your thoughts this week? i just want to send her all of the love and light and beautiful vibes that are possible – because she is an incredible, amazing, strong, and inspiring woman. but, even women like her have difficult times. we all do.

this week, as i spend my time thinking of you and sending out love to the far corners of the world, i ask you to join me. instead of rays of love this week, i envision a circle of love. i would be so humbly appreciative.

and, you know what? screw that sense of failure i had in the beginning of this post. screw my guilt and worry. i may have messed up, i may not have lived up to my expectations, but those days are over. today is today. and it’s a new day. and i have dreams to fulfill. so, my friends, it’s onward. upward. and forward.

namaste. xx